Jacinth in the Bible

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Jacinth is the first stone mentioned in the Bible in the third row of the priest's breastplate (Exodus 28:19). It is derived from the Hebrew word leshem (Strong's Concordance #H3958). Both Strong's and the BDB lexicon define this word as a jacinth or ligure stone. This word is also rendered as this precious stone in eight of the ten Bible versions used for comparison in this series. The other two versions of Scripture, the HBFV and the KJV, render the word as "opal" and "ligure."

The eleventh of twelve precious stones used in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:20) is called in the Greek huakinthos (Strong's #G5192). Strong's states the word can be translated as either "jacinth" or "hyacinth." Thayer's lexicon equates the Greek word to "hyacinth." All ten Bible translations used in this series render huakinthos as this gem in Revelation 21:20.

There is a difficulty, however, in determining what the Jacinth of the Bible looked like due to conflicting definitions regarding the color of the gemstone. Both Strong's and the BDB lexicon do not define the coloration of the stone mentioned in Exodus 28:19. Strong's, however, does define the jacinth (hyacinth) gemstone mentioned in Revelation 21:20 as deep blue. Thayer's says the stone in Revelation 21 is "dark blue verging on black."

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Keil and Delitzsch's Commentary declares the jacinth found in Exodus 28:19 is "a transparent stone chiefly of an orange color, but running sometimes into a reddish brown, at other times into a brownish or pale red, and sometimes into an approach to a pistachio green." Easton's Bible Dictionary defines jacinth as being a reddish blue or deep purple color. Both Fausset's and Smith's Bible dictionary states the stones are a red variety of zircon. Gill's Exposition of the Scriptures says the stone is either purple or violet.


Tiara made with Jacinth
Tiara made with Jacinth

Mindat.org, a popular mineral site, states that jacinth stones (the reference of which is synonymous to hyacinths) are zircon stones that range in color from yellow-red to red-brown. The United States Geologic Survey site defines hyacinths as coming in yellow, orange, red and brown colors.

Folklore

Amulets containing Jacinth were thought to protect travelers against the plague and any wounds or injuries they would otherwise experience during their trip. The stone was also thought to insure a warm reception at any inn he visited along the way and even protect the wearer from being hit by lightning (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, pages 81 - 82).

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Gemstones in the Bible

References
1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Curious Lore of Precious Stones, 1913 ed.
Diamonds, Pearls and Precious Stones, 1913 ed.
Gemstones in the Breastplate, 2008 ed.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
United States Geological Survey
Gemdat.org - Mindat.org - Wikipedia


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